(This is going to be a long one)
An open letter to Capital FM:
Dear Capital FM,
I’ve been thinking for a long time now and mulling over writing this, first because I don’t think merely writing about an issue would lead to direct, conducive change, it takes more than that, and I’m looking for more. My efforts now at most would raise the discussion and get some members of society to get some thinking going on. I’ve since come to adopt this as my purpose for writing.
Secondly, “Hate” is a strong word, but I used it in the title because I feel strongly about this issue. It’s dangerous to continue what you’re doing Capital FM; dangerous because this station represents the very opposite of what equality is, what women’s rights are, what feminism is and what women are, despite claiming to champion these things, and continuing to do so will inadvertently see to the detriment of women.
First and foremost, I realize the strengths of your station, namely it’s existence. The fact that there is a station that is “for women”, speaks about an untapped discussion in society that had previously been unseen and not spoken about. But mere existence alone is not enough, it has to be good for something, and currently the station is not good, and it can be so much better. Here are my arguments:
Number one 1)
I do not buy into the idea that there can be a station that “represents women”, because it’s just not possible for anything to represent all women. I tweeted something the other day: “Its a very dangerous thing to have a radio station that claims to speak for women. Because women are as diverse as half of the world.”, and what I mean is women make up half of society, they are so much more diverse than the stereotypes and pigeonholes you’ve put them in. We’re not just girlfriends, mothers and wives, we’re also citizens, businesspeople, and individuals, and this population cannot be clumped together and generalized, or addressed simply by-gender and gender roles.
You want to talk about equality and freeing genders, first you break out of the mold about speaking about binaries of women as “women” and men as “men”, and start looking at them as individuals. Just like how you stop talking about Malays as Malays, Indians as Indians and Chinese as Chinese, we are Malaysians. We are not just women, and we are not just men, we are human beings.
Human beings with thoughts, opinions, likes, dislikes, diverse vocations and backgrounds. We don’t all like make-up or to talk about hot-men, or like to hear “celebrity gossip”, which are the things you and some of your hosts and programming talk about. Even worse are your PSA’s. There’s this one with Xandra Ooi, saying something like, ” hey let’s not gossip ladies”. First the PSA won’t change anything by stating the obvious. Second, who in this day and age will get influenced by the magical “voice of god” from the new fangled contraption called the radio, or that just because Xandra Ooi tells me not to gossip, which is quite the irony, I would suddenly change and say, “hey I won’t gossip anymore!”
Second, this is also a generalization about ladies that we all gossip. It’s simply inaccurate, people that like to gossip will gossip, men and women and gay and transgendered, and not just women.
I believe there are far more intelligent women in the world, and what your station does is cater to the lowest common denominator of women in society, and that’s dangerous, because it’s representing women as clearly, stupider than what they are and keeps them in a perpetual cycle of low culture discussions, never breaking out of the cycle of intellectual poverty. It’s such a shallow discussion, and everything you’re talking about, to the content you have, the discussions you have, and the hosts you have do not help raise the bar on misconceptions and preconceptions of women.
I’ll give you an example, first, on content.
The news that you report about, largely focuses on rape, snatch theft, crimes against women, and the focus is understandable- it’s a women’s station. But I would also like to know what the national/ international discussion is, I want to know about politics, I also want to know about sport, and gadgets, stocks, business and market trends. Are you trying to tell me that because I’m a woman, I’m too dumb to be able to consume this type of content? Won’t be interested in it? Should stick to knowing about what will harm me? I know what is going to harm me, and one of them, is your content.
The people that listen to the radio at the times when you read your news, are people that travel to work and back, they are business people. Won’t it be more conducive to cater to the businesswomen? entrepreneurs? High-flyers in society? My argument is that, your ideas about what women want or don’t want to listen to keeps them in a bubble, in their own world of fear, make-up, bad music, and men, and more grossly, “what men want” or “what kind of women do men want?”. That’s not the question on every woman’s mind, we don’t exist solely for men, and if that happens to be the question on some women’s minds, you can help snap them out of it. Give them dignity, give them education, keep them informed, keep them engaged. It is entirely possible to have important, educated content about women in life and society without driving your “market” away. Think BFM. What is happening now is you’re putting women in a filter bubble that all they know is what they are thought to like and are naturally pre-dispositioned to know anyway.
Your tagline, “Women the New Capital”, I have a problem with that. To speak in your language, it’s like the idea of ” America’s Next Top Model”, there will always be a “Next”. It’s this never-ending cycle of never having a winner at the top. It has never been ” HERE’S THE TOP MODEL”, it’s always, “Here’s the next…” while it works for the continuity of programming for Miss Banks, women aren’t a marketing gimmick, or a show to be sold. I don’t want be a “new” capital, I don’t want to be stuck being forever “new”, I want to be established. I want to be in a state where we don’t ever have to continue talking about ourselves as a “new” power and to know that I already am.
3) Third, Your hosts, presenters and DJs.
The only reason I had tuned in to Capital FM in the first place was because I loved Patricia K’s playlist. It had great indie tracks and offered a good musical alternative. But you need to think about your primetime hosts and content (See above). Joanne and Xandra are really annoying, because they keep on talking about hot men and the dynamics between men and women. The content already does not help, in the very least, get likable personalities. Xandra Ooi is not likable.
For the Jam Break, you need a radio presenter that is intelligent and insightful, someone that understands that feminism or women’s rights are not about bashing the other gender, and that is what so commonly happens in your station. Your previous co-host Liang, got bashed so much by Debs for his opinions, that in my opinion were completely valid. Just because he was a man his views were shot down, now that’s gender discrimination. How is this “equality” Just because he was working in a radio station “for women”, he has to concede and say that ” you’re right?” For the record, no she wasn’t right. Her arguments were shallow, and it wasn’t because she was a woman, it was because she was the wrong person for the job. She either needs to research harder, work harder, or find someone more qualified for it. The chemistry isn’t right, and the host you chose isn’t right.
The only segment that I think was appropriately placed is Asha Gill’s segment. It was in the afternoon, she talks about health, nutrition, mommy stuff, which is smart seeing as it’s in the afternoon, and the women that would be in their cars in the afternoon would most likely be stay-at-home moms.
I’ve been talking about all my dislikes about your station at length, and it will not be fair if I just criticized and don’t offer suggestions. So here are some:
1) Hire likable people
2) Hire intelligent, insightful people
3) Think of a new content model
This current model you’re working on won’t work anymore. Even if your assumption is that women aren’t interested in business or “too complex” get someone to explain it in a readily consumable way
So here it is, understandably it is a tough, complex complicated job trying to run a radio station for women, there’s not many ways you can go about it without angering some segment of society. But about women and who they are, think harder. I think many of you are older than I am, you’re supposed to know better. In the very least, don’t speak down to women and propagate the stereotypes and assumptions about women with your actions.
A concerned individual